EU tightens checks on fresh produce imports

A worker tends to tomatoes at Wambugu Agricultural Training centre in Nyeri county on February 15, 2022. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NMG

Europe has lowered the level of detection for chemical residues and pests on Kenya’s produce in a move that will raise the level of checks on exports of fresh produce.

Exporters are now worried that a lack of compliance to the required Minimum Residue Level (MRL) by farmers will lead to frequent interception of the produce in the wake of increased checks.

Europe, Kenya’s largest market for fresh produce has lowered the level to a bare minimum of LOD — level of detection — meaning that any hazard found whether high or low will be treated the same.

The amendment to the EU plant health rules for False Codling Moth, which was effected on July 14, imposes new guidelines on exports of capsicum, tomatoes, citrus, and fresh mango.

“These guides provide a clear explanation of what needs to be done in order to ensure that exported produce is in compliance with EU phytosanitary requirements,” said the EU in the new guidelines.

The guidelines detail the information to be provided, and actions to be taken, at all stages from production to export by producers and exporters, as well as by the national authorities and inspection services.

Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya (FPCK) says farmers snow have to adhere to stipulated time when it comes to harvesting their produce after spraying with pesticides or insecticides in order to avoid interceptions.

“We now need to be vigilant by ensuring that farmers comply with the requirement set by the EU,” said Ojepat Okisegere, chief executive at the FPCK.

Kenya is eyeing the EU market for the exports of mango after 10 years of not shipping to the bloc, but the current stringent measure may pose a challenge.

The country imposed a self-ban on mango to the EU in 2012 following high cases of fruit flies that risked the country’s product being blacklisted.

Fruit flies are some of the pests that the EU has increased surveillance on meaning that the country has to cut down significantly the presence of these pests.

“This means that entry into the EU of produce containing a large range of fruit fly species (including all fruit flies belonging to the Acanthiophilus, Bactrocera, Ceratitis, and Dacus genera) is now prohibited,” said the EU.

Kenya has established pest-free zones to curb pests as it seeks to resume the EU market.

The self-imposed ban has seen Kenya sell the bulk of its mangoes to the Middle East but returns have been lower compared to what growers would earn from EU states.

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